Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti with Champagne Chile Cream Sauce
The folks at FoodBuzz were kind enough to send us a sample of Buitoni's new Riserva Pasta line. We got a sample of the Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti -- a folded semolina ravioli-like pasta containing portabello, crimini and roasted garlic with padano and parmesan cheeses. The semolina, mushroom, cheese mixture just jumped out with its earthiness, so I was mulling over choices for sauce. I came up with a champagne cream sauce, with some New Mexico red chiles, with fresh oregano and lemon juice. I was shooting for the idea of an alfredo, matched with just a very little bit of smoky chile zing, with some greenness and sharpness from the herbs and citrus. It turned out to be a pretty good mix of flavors.
The sauce is a stock reduction with sparkling wine, oregano and shallots, and a bit of chile puree, mixed later with a reduced cream and butter base.
Our daughter Meta doesn't want me to forget the lemon juice at the end for a bit of brightness.
New Mexico can be defensive about their chiles. For one thing, they prefer the spelling "chile". The New Mexico "long red" dried chile pods are also sometimes called chile colorado, and from what I gather, they're similar to anaheims that have been left on the vine until they're red and leathery, then sun dried. They do tend to be hot and spicy, but I wanted this sauce to be very subtle -- no heat like a cream cajun or a tex-mex pepper sauce. I wanted flavor and a bit of background warmth.
To make the chile puree, I boiled some water in a pot, then added two seed pods (with the stems removed) and took the water off the heat. 5-10 minutes later, the pods have rehydrated, so I added them to a mini-processor with two tablespoons of the leftover water. Pulse-pulse-pulse, and I strained the mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl, pressing down on the solids and scraping the puree off the bottom of the strainer.
In a small saucepan, I melted 4 tablespoons of butter and added a cup of heavy cream. I brought this up to a simmer and let it reduce by half.
I rough-chopped a medium shallot. In another saucepan, I started a cup of chicken stock, 1/2 cup sparkling wine, and the shallots. I added 2 tablespoons of the chile puree, a sprig of fresh oregano, turned the heat to a high simmer, and let it reduce a lot -- the cup and a half of liquid would reduce down to about 1/4 cup of liquid.
I finely chopped some fresh oregano until I got about 1/2 tablespoon, then shredded some Parmesan to about 1/4 cup.
I added the Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti to boiling water and cooked according to the directions on the package.
While the pasta cooked, I strained the stock/wine reduction into the cream/butter mixture, pressed down on the solids to get every last bit of taste, and added kosher salt and the chopped oregano. I poured about 2 tablespoons more of sparkling wine into the sauce, and squirted in half a lemon's worth of juice.
When the pasta was drained and ready, the sauce was poured over the top, dusted with the grated Parmesan, and garished with a fresh oregano sprig.
Recipe: Champagne Chile Cream Sauce (4 servings) 1 cup chicken stock (low sodium if canned) 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sparkling wine 2 New Mexico chile pods, stem ends removed 1 medium shallot 1 cup heavy cream 4 tablespoons butter 1 sprig fresh oregano (+1 per plate for garnish) 1/2 tablespoon chopped oregano 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan 1/2 lemon kosher salt to taste
Deconstruction: This was a pretty nice, mellow sauce. The acid from the wine and the lemon juice brightened the herb flavor of the oregano, and kept the cream sauce from being too heavy. The heat and taste from the chiles was balanced, and the whole sauce worked really well with the earthy wild mushrooms and fresh-tasting pasta.